Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 4 March 2015

DUP leader Peter Robinson tops poll in stunning comeback

First Minister and DUP leader Peter Robinson celebrates topping the poll in the east Belfast count at Newtownards Leisure Centre in the Northern Ireland Assembly elections
First Minister and DUP leader Peter Robinson celebrates topping the poll in the east Belfast count at Newtownards Leisure Centre in the Northern Ireland Assembly elections
First Minister and DUP leader Peter Robinson celebrates topping the poll in the east Belfast count at Newtownards Leisure Centre in the Northern Ireland Assembly elections
First Minister and DUP leader Peter Robinson celebrates topping the poll in the east Belfast count at Newtownards Leisure Centre in the Northern Ireland Assembly elections
First Minister and DUP leader Peter Robinson celebrates with a hug from daughter Rebekah after topping the poll in the east Belfast count at Newtownards Leisure Centre in the Northern Ireland Assembly elections
Northern Ireland Assembly election May 2011: Counting starts in the Northern Ireland Assembly election at Newtownards Leisure Centre
Northern Ireland Assembly election May 2011: Sinn Fein's Paul Maskey and Jennifer McCann are elected on the first count for West Belfast
Northern Ireland Assembly election May 2011: Anna Lo of the Alliance party is elected for South Belfast
Northern Ireland Assembly election May 2011: A delay at the counts in the King's Hall, Belfast
Sinn Fein's Caral Ni Chuilin as the ballot boxes are opened for counting in the Valley Leisure Centre
Raymond McCord (Independent) and Sinn Fein's Gerry Kelly at the count in Valley Leisure Centre
DUP's Paul Girvan and Trevor Clarke pump their fist with joy after being elected for South Antrim on the first count at Valley Leisure Centre
First Minister and DUP leader Peter Robinson with Michelle McIlveen and Jonathan Bell who won seats in the Strangford election at the count in Newtownards Leisure Centre
Martina Anderson who was returned as an MLA in the Foyle Constituency last night at the count in Lisneal College after coming second in the poll and being elected on the first count
An emotional Nelson McCausland and wife Mary are overcome with joy after being elected for North Belfast on the first count at Valley Leisure Centre for the Northern Ireland Assembly election
DUP's Michelle McIIveen tops the poll in Srangford and is congragulated by Jim Shannon (left) and Robert Gibson at the election count at Ards Leisure Centre
North Ireland Assembly election count at Lisburn Leisure Centre - South Down Constituency. Margaret Ritchie, SDLP leader after being elected
Pol Callaghan (SDLP) who was one of the Foyle MLAs standing for re-election at yesterday's count in LIsneal College
Alliance leader David Ford celebrating with his wife Anne and kids after being elected for South Antrim on the second count at Valley Leisure Centre
DUP's Michelle McIlveen who won a seat in the Strangford election at the count in Newtownards Leisure Centre in the Northern Ireland Assembly elections.
Gregory Campbell celebrates with his wife Frances and party workers after he was reelected to the Northern Ireland Assembly
DUP Sammy Wilson happy with how the East Antrim counting is going in the Valley Leisure Centre for the Assembley election count.
East Londonderry MLA George Robinson (DUP) at yesterdays count in LIsneal College. PIcture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com. 6.5.11
Eamonn McCann
Pol Callaghan (SDLP) who was one of the Foyle MLA's standing for re-election at yesterdays count in LIsneal College. PIcture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com. 6.5.11
PACEMAKER BELFAST 6/5/2011DUP Nelson McCausland as the ballot boxes are opened for counting in the Valley Leisure Centre for the North Belfast Assembley election count in the Northern Ireland Assembely.Photo Colm O'Reilly/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 6/5/2011 DUP Nigel Dodds as the ballot boxes are opened for counting in the Valley Leisure Centre for the Antrim Council election count.Photo Colm O'Reilly/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 6/5/2011Raymond McCord Independent and Sinn Feins Gerry Kelly at the counting in the Valley Leisure Centre for the soth Antrim Assembley count for the Northern Ireland Assembely election.Photo Colm O'Reilly/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 6/5/2011 DUP Sammy Wilson happy with how the East Antrim counting is going in the Valley Leisure Centre for the Assembley election count.Photo Colm O'Reilly/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 6/5/2011Stewart Dickson Alliance Party checks how the East Antrim counting is going in the Valley Leisure Centre for the Assembley election count.Photo Colm O'Reilly/Pacemaker Press
First Minister and DUP leader Peter Robinson arrives at the count in Newtownards Leisure Centre in the Northern Ireland Assembly elections.
First Minister and DUP leader Peter Robinson, pictured with daughter Rebekah, puts on an id braclet after he was asked for id before being allowed to enter the count at Newtownards Leisure Centre in the Northern Ireland Assembly elections
Pacemaker Press 6/5/2011 A delay at the Counts in the King's Hall for the West and South Belfast assembly elections Pic Colm Lenaghan
Pacemaker Press 6/5/2011 SDLP's Alastair McDonnell with his family at the Counts in the King's Hall for the South Belfast assembly elections Pic Colm Lenaghan
©Mark Pearce/Presseye.com- 6th May 2011 Press Eye Ltd- Northern Ireland _____ Mandatory Credit - Photo Mark Pearce/Presseye.comElecion Copunt @ Seven Towers Leisure Centre in BallymenaNorth Antrim /Mid Ulster Count Ian Paisley Junior at the North Antrim Count Mandatory Credit Photo Mark Pearce / Presseye.com
©Mark Pearce/Presseye.com- 6th May 2011 Press Eye Ltd- Northern Ireland _____ Mandatory Credit - Photo Mark Pearce/Presseye.comElecion Copunt @ Seven Towers Leisure Centre in BallymenaNorth Antrim /Mid Ulster Count Ian Paisley Junior at the North Antrim Count Mandatory Credit Photo Mark Pearce / Presseye.com
©Mark Pearce/Presseye.com- 6th May 2011 Press Eye Ltd- Northern Ireland _____ Mandatory Credit - Photo Mark Pearce/Presseye.comElecion Copunt @ Seven Towers Leisure Centre in BallymenaNorth Antrim /Mid Ulster Count Mandatory Credit Photo Mark Pearce / Presseye.com
©Mark Pearce/Presseye.com- 6th May 2011 Press Eye Ltd- Northern Ireland _____ Mandatory Credit - Photo Mark Pearce/Presseye.comElecion Copunt @ Seven Towers Leisure Centre in BallymenaNorth Antrim /Mid Ulster Count Mandatory Credit Photo Mark Pearce / Presseye.com
©Mark Pearce/Presseye.com- 6th May 2011 Press Eye Ltd- Northern Ireland _____ Mandatory Credit - Photo Mark Pearce/Presseye.comElecion Copunt @ Seven Towers Leisure Centre in BallymenaNorth Antrim /Mid Ulster Count Mandatory Credit Photo Mark Pearce / Presseye.com
©Mark Pearce/Presseye.com- 6th May 2011 Press Eye Ltd- Northern Ireland _____ Mandatory Credit - Photo Mark Pearce/Presseye.comElecion Copunt @ Seven Towers Leisure Centre in BallymenaNorth Antrim /Mid Ulster Count Mandatory Credit Photo Mark Pearce / Presseye.com
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland -Monday 5th May 2011 - Picture by Jonathan Porter/ PressEye.com - Counting starts at different count centers across Northern Ireland after voters went to the polls yesterday to elect new members for the Stormont Assembly and local councils. Voters are also took part in the referendum regarding the way Westminster MPs are elected. Counting starts at the Kings Hall in south Belfast.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland -Monday 5th May 2011 - Picture by Jonathan Porter/ PressEye.com - Counting starts at different count centers across Northern Ireland after voters went to the polls yesterday to elect new members for the Stormont Assembly and local councils. Voters are also took part in the referendum regarding the way Westminster MPs are elected. Counting starts at the Kings Hall in south Belfast.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland -Monday 5th May 2011 - Picture by Jonathan Porter/ PressEye.com - Counting starts at different count centers across Northern Ireland after voters went to the polls yesterday to elect new members for the Stormont Assembly and local councils. Voters are also took part in the referendum regarding the way Westminster MPs are elected. Counting starts at the Kings Hall in south Belfast.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland -Monday 5th May 2011 - Picture by Jonathan Porter/ PressEye.com - Counting starts at different count centers across Northern Ireland after voters went to the polls yesterday to elect new members for the Stormont Assembly and local councils. Voters are also took part in the referendum regarding the way Westminster MPs are elected. Left to right. Sinn Fein's Mary Lou McDonald, Gerry Adams and Pat Sheehan pictured at the Kings Hall.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland -Monday 5th May 2011 - Picture by Jonathan Porter/ PressEye.com - Counting starts at different count centers across Northern Ireland after voters went to the polls yesterday to elect new members for the Stormont Assembly and local councils. Voters are also took part in the referendum regarding the way Westminster MPs are elected. Left to right. Sinn Fein's Mary Lou McDonald and Gerry Adams pictured at the Kings Hall.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland -Monday 5th May 2011 - Picture by Jonathan Porter/ PressEye.com - Counting starts at different count centers across Northern Ireland after voters went to the polls yesterday to elect new members for the Stormont Assembly and local councils. Voters are also took part in the referendum regarding the way Westminster MPs are elected. The DUP's Brian Kingston at the Kings Hall.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland -Monday 5th May 2011 - Picture by Jonathan Porter/ PressEye.com - Counting starts at different count centers across Northern Ireland after voters went to the polls yesterday to elect new members for the Stormont Assembly and local councils. Voters are also took part in the referendum regarding the way Westminster MPs are elected. Sinn Fein's Alex Maskey at the Kings Hall.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland -Monday 5th May 2011 - Picture by Jonathan Porter/ PressEye.com - Counting starts at different count centers across Northern Ireland after voters went to the polls yesterday to elect new members for the Stormont Assembly and local councils. Voters are also took part in the referendum regarding the way Westminster MPs are elected. Alliance's Anna Lo at the Kings Hall.
Noel McCurdy and Johnny Currie from Rathlin Island hand over The Rathlin Island Ballot boxes to Richard Lewis Chief Executive of Moyle District Council as he brings them ashore at Ballycastle late on Thursday night, before they were were transferred to Ballymena counting centre for vertification.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland -Monday 5th May 2011 - Picture by Jonathan Porter/ PressEye.com - Counting starts at different count centers across Northern Ireland after voters went to the polls yesterday to elect new members for the Stormont Assembly and local councils. Voters are also took part in the referendum regarding the way Westminster MPs are elected. Counting starts at the Kings Hall in south Belfast.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland -Monday 5th May 2011 - Picture by Jonathan Porter/ PressEye.com - Counting starts at different count centers across Northern Ireland after voters went to the polls yesterday to elect new members for the Stormont Assembly and local councils. Voters are also took part in the referendum regarding the way Westminster MPs are elected. Counting starts at the Kings Hall in south Belfast.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland -Monday 5th May 2011 - Picture by Jonathan Porter/ PressEye.com - Counting starts at different count centers across Northern Ireland after voters went to the polls yesterday to elect new members for the Stormont Assembly and local councils. Voters are also took part in the referendum regarding the way Westminster MPs are elected. Counting starts at the Kings Hall in south Belfast.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland -Monday 5th May 2011 - Picture by Jonathan Porter/ PressEye.com - Counting starts at different count centers across Northern Ireland after voters went to the polls yesterday to elect new members for the Stormont Assembly and local councils. Voters are also took part in the referendum regarding the way Westminster MPs are elected. Counting starts at the Kings Hall in south Belfast.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland -Monday 5th May 2011 - Picture by Jonathan Porter/ PressEye.com - Counting starts at different count centers across Northern Ireland after voters went to the polls yesterday to elect new members for the Stormont Assembly and local councils. Voters are also took part in the referendum regarding the way Westminster MPs are elected. Counting starts at the Kings Hall in south Belfast.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland -Monday 5th May 2011 - Picture by Jonathan Porter/ PressEye.com - Counting starts at different count centers across Northern Ireland after voters went to the polls yesterday to elect new members for the Stormont Assembly and local councils. Voters are also took part in the referendum regarding the way Westminster MPs are elected. Counting starts at the Kings Hall in south Belfast.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland -Monday 5th May 2011 - Picture by Jonathan Porter/ PressEye.com - Counting starts at different count centers across Northern Ireland after voters went to the polls yesterday to elect new members for the Stormont Assembly and local councils. Voters are also took part in the referendum regarding the way Westminster MPs are elected. Counting starts at the Kings Hall in south Belfast.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland -Monday 5th May 2011 - Picture by Jonathan Porter/ PressEye.com - Counting starts at different count centers across Northern Ireland after voters went to the polls yesterday to elect new members for the Stormont Assembly and local councils. Voters are also took part in the referendum regarding the way Westminster MPs are elected. Counting starts at the Kings Hall in south Belfast. Sinn Feins Alex Maskey and the DUP's Jimmy Spratt.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland -Monday 5th May 2011 - Picture by Jonathan Porter/ PressEye.com - Counting starts at different count centers across Northern Ireland after voters went to the polls yesterday to elect new members for the Stormont Assembly and local councils. Voters are also took part in the referendum regarding the way Westminster MPs are elected. Counting starts at the Kings Hall in south Belfast.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland -Monday 5th May 2011 - Picture by Jonathan Porter/ PressEye.com - Counting starts at different count centers across Northern Ireland after voters went to the polls yesterday to elect new members for the Stormont Assembly and local councils. Voters are also took part in the referendum regarding the way Westminster MPs are elected. Counting starts at the Kings Hall in south Belfast.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland -Monday 5th May 2011 - Picture by Jonathan Porter/ PressEye.com - Counting starts at different count centers across Northern Ireland after voters went to the polls yesterday to elect new members for the Stormont Assembly and local councils. Voters are also took part in the referendum regarding the way Westminster MPs are elected. Counting starts at the Kings Hall in south Belfast.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland -Monday 5th May 2011 - Picture by Jonathan Porter/ PressEye.com - Counting starts at different count centers across Northern Ireland after voters went to the polls yesterday to elect new members for the Stormont Assembly and local councils. Voters are also took part in the referendum regarding the way Westminster MPs are elected. Sinn Fein's Pat Sheehan pictured at the Kings Hall.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland -Monday 5th May 2011 - Picture by Jonathan Porter/ PressEye.com - Counting starts at different count centers across Northern Ireland after voters went to the polls yesterday to elect new members for the Stormont Assembly and local councils. Voters are also took part in the referendum regarding the way Westminster MPs are elected. Counting starts at the Kings Hall in south Belfast. The DUP's Nigel Dodds pictured at the Kings Hall.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland -Monday 5th May 2011 - Picture by Jonathan Porter/ PressEye.com - Counting starts at different count centers across Northern Ireland after voters went to the polls yesterday to elect new members for the Stormont Assembly and local councils. Voters are also took part in the referendum regarding the way Westminster MPs are elected. Counting starts at the Kings Hall in south Belfast.

Peter Robinson stormed back into electoral favour as he topped the poll in East Belfast.

Almost a year to the day after sensationally losing his House of Commons seat to Alliance Party deputy leader Naomi Long, the DUP leader was back on top with 9,141 votes.

His first preference total was almost 5,000 ahead of second placed Alliance candidate Judith Cochrane.

An emotional First Minister said: “I am very grateful to the people of East Belfast.”

But he insisted he was looking forward rather than back at last year’s personal drubbing. “If you can't withstand the ebb and flow of politics you've picked the wrong career,” he said. “None of us can change history – it's there and we have to deal with it. What I want to do is to look to the future.”

His comments came as both his party and Sinn Fein – awaiting confirmation of their expected dominant positions in the Assembly – kept up their attack on their Ulster Unionist and SDLP rivals.

Both Mr Robinson and deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said the apparent downturn in the fortunes of the UUP and, to a seemingly lesser extent, the SDLP, was because of the “negative” role they have played in the Stormont Executive over recent months.

And they again singled out the Alliance Party, which was enjoying the prospect of several extra seats putting it within distance of a second Executive place apart from the Justice Ministry, for praise.

Both the UUP and SDLP, whose leaders Tom Elliott and Margaret Ritchie romped home in their constituencies, again denounced the “cosy consensus” of the other three Executive parties.

But as counting resumed today the DUP and Sinn Fein had 35 seats — the DUP 19 and Sinn Fein 16 — while the UUP had six and the SDLP four.

And, as always, the tight battle for the last seat in many constituencies will prove crucial in determining the final overall shape of the next Stormont administration.

As the squabbling between the parties continued through the election results, it appeared the Assembly is most likely to hold its first meeting next Thursday, when Mr Robinson and Mr McGuinness will be reaffirmed in office and other ministers appointed.

But the outlook for the UUP looked more uncertain, with some candidates — among them former UUP Assembly chief whip David McNarry and his successor Fred Cobain — struggling to hang on to their seats in Strangford and North Belfast respectively.

Mr Robinson said that the Ulster Unionists in particular might have to ask themselves why they were struggling, after both they and SDLP MLAs voted against the four-year Stormont Budget just weeks ago.

Sinn Fein’s Gerry Adams said his party’s performance followed on its recent success in the Irish election when it won 14 seats in the Dail — and rounded on the UUP and the SDLP.

“I think the problem for the SDLP and the UUP is that rather than joining in the Executive, keeping their own particular identity and working with the rest of us, they tried to cast themselves very artificially as being in government and opposition at the same time. That doesn't work,” he said.

The former West Belfast MP said both the UUP and SDLP held seats in the last Executive but had criticised the conduct of the DUP and Sinn Fein, who were the dominant presence in the outgoing administration. The smaller parties had tried to criticise the Government, despite being part of it, and now appeared to have been punished by voters, he added.

Mr Adams also talked of the poignancy of canvassing in his old west Belfast stomping ground.

“I spent the last few days in west Belfast and quite a number of people, particularly elderly people, told me that this was the first election that they had ever voted in that my name was not on the ballot card so that was a highly emotional moment,” he said.

Fears of the turnout falling further were fuelled by reports from various constituencies — early figures included 48% in East Antrim, while 57% voted in Foyle, 53% in Lagan Valley, 46% in North Down, 55% in Upper Bann and 64% in the mainly nationalist West Tyrone constituency. All are far behind figures for elections in recent years — Assembly elections had a 69.9% turnout in 1998, 63.9% in 2003 and 62.9% in 2007.

Last year's General Election saw a 57.6% turnout.

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